LinkedIn Article: How This Millennial Learned That Investing in People #OutsideWork Matters
This was a strange post for me to write, particularly because it required me to get a little deeper than I'm used to when creating an article for a client. However, I'm very pleased with how it turned out and thankful for the opportunity to share on such a platform. Below is the article and a source link to the original article.
“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
According to nurse, and author, Bronnie Ware, this is one of The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. Ware states in her book (of the same title):
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
Another of the top regrets?
“I wish I stayed in touch with my friends.”
Or as Ware so eloquently states,
“There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”
My own mother has worked as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for over 25 years, and many of our family dinner table conversations echoed Ms. Ware’s findings, so I believe them to be true.
My parents have a rag to riches story – living in destitute poverty in Jamaica and then rising to the ranks of America’s middle class. They worked hard to get there (and by Jamaican standards, their modest four bedroom house may as well be an eighteen bedroom mansion).
My father has always worked hard to take care of his family, but my mother has worked especially hard – taking on 12-hour night shifts in ICU while the rest of us slept.
In watching my parents work ethic and the way they navigated the "work-life balance" I learned one particularly valuable lesson:
Work hard, work excellently, but always make time to invest in people, because in the end, it’s people that matter most.
Amidst busy, and at times completely opposite schedules, my parents have always modeled this truth, and still do.
They continue to work hard and receive awards for their excellence in their respective fields but they have ALWAYS made time for people #outsidework.
When I was younger they made time for us (my siblings and I): family dinners, family vacations, etc.
But we weren’t the only people they invested in.
They served faithfully in their local church. They mentored youth. They volunteered their time and efforts, which often went toward planning events that celebrated others and their achievements.
My mother would lose the daytime sleep she needed to work her fourth, and sometimes fifth, night in a row to console someone who just needed a listening ear.
As a millennial, who desires, in part, to eliminate the dividing line between work and life #outsidework (in order to live a more fully integrated life because I believe all of life should be enjoyed whether you're working or not), there have been times when I have focused more on establishing myself in my work than making a conscious effort to invest in the people around me, "off the clock." Yet,
I have found that when I make the time to invest in others, through volunteering, serving, spending quality time, or calling that friend who has been on my mind to encourage them in their own endeavors, I feel refreshed and energized.
And when I do return to my work, I'm more productive, and sharper than ever!
That's the power of investing in people, in helping others you inadvertently help yourself.
That is not to say that you shouldn't make taking time for yourself a priority. It simply means we should seek to be there for others, as much as we seek to find "success."
Because my parents did, and continue to do, such a wonderful job of walking this out, I know that I have a responsibility to continue making this a conscious effort.
I'm thankful for the opportunities I have to do this - volunteering my time to bring people together for a great cause, serving in church, and mentoring student athletes at a local high school.
Unfortunately, for many millennials investing in personal relationships is not a priority. Mainly, because we don't understand that there are best practices when it comes to making it one.
Many of "us" keep in touch with our friends and "support" our favorite causes via social media and when we do get together with our peers its either to brainstorm (business) or relax (vacation).
This, of course, is not true for all of us; but for some, the idea of going offline to invest in our personal relationships seems a little foreign. Especially, when technology has done and can do so much for business relationships.
Still, too often in traditional work environments and relationships, if an employee dies unexpectedly, they are replaced, no matter what their title. Yes, even those who worked hard and diligently.
But no matter the position, the janitor or the CEO,
that same person is IRREPLACEABLE to people he or she took the time to impact and their legacy will live on.
How To Invest In Others
No matter what generation you're from, you don't have to fall victim to the workaholic lifestyle and have the same regrets on your deathbed that Ms. Ware's patients, and many of my mother's patients, had.
Marriages have ended, family members have become estranged, friendships have faltered, opportunities to help others less fortunate have been missed because people have failed to in vest in others.
Below are 5 keys that have helped me to invest in people.
These best practices will help you across the board, whether you decide to serve at your local place of worship, volunteer with a local non-profit, or simply get better at cultivating your existing personal relationships.
- Make The Time - Investing at any level requires thoughtfulness. You're busy as it is, so if investing in people is going to become a priority you're going to need to schedule it. Whether it's a family dinner time, volunteering a few hours once a month, or choosing one day a week to call someone you haven't spoken to in a while.
- Listen - This should be self explanatory, but let this be a gentle reminder that this time is not about you or furthering your goals. This is a time to give your undivided attention to the person or cause you're helping.
- Ask Questions - This lets people know that you are listening and that you care.
- Care Enough To Remember Details - Remembering names and significant details let's people know your interactions with them mean as much to you as they do to them.
- Let Your Guard Down - We've all been disappointed and/or hurt before, but don't let this stop you from being your authentic self. No one else is like you. No one else can share the experiences you've had in the way that you can. Yes processes are in place but no one can think or accomplish a volunteer task quite like you.
You are indeed irreplaceable. And investing in people #outsidework matters because those people are irreplaceable too.
Cara Findlay is a Freelance Writer and Marketing Enthusiast that enjoys working with forward-thinking brands like DetailXPerts - the world’s first eco-friendly vehicle steam cleaning system. With DetailXPerts’ patent-pending process, DetailXPerts can clean 15 cars with just 2 gallons of water, or one semi truck with 4 gallons, which conserves water as well as reduces waste and water pollution.